According to the Federal Trade Commission:
A credit report is a summary of your personal credit history. Your credit report includes your identifying information — like your address and date of birth — and information about your credit history — like how you pay your bills or if you filed for bankruptcy. Three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) collect and update this information. Most national department store and bank credit card accounts are included in your file, along with loans, but not all creditors report information to credit bureaus.
The information in your credit report can affect your buying power. It can also affect your chance to get a job, rent or buy a place to live, and buy insurance. Credit bureaus sell the information in your report to businesses that use it to decide whether to loan you money, give you credit, offer you insurance, or rent you a home. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. The strength of your credit history also affects how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
The credit bureaus must:
- make sure that the information they collect about you is accurate
- give you a free copy of your report once every 12 months
- give you a chance to fix any mistakes
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law, requires this.